Vick Hope with selected Mastercard Trailblazers. Photo credit: Press

Award-winning journalist, author, presenter and BBC Radio 1 drivetime host Vick Hope held a panel talk on the importance of “broadening access to music and shaping the future of the industry for the next generation.”

The event took place at One Hundred Shoreditch in east London last week (February 20) ahead of tonight’s BRIT Awards. It was in support of Mastercard’s latest campaign centred around seven “music trailblazers” who are making “change in the music industry across technology, diversity and inclusion. ”

This year, they highlighted the work of electronic artist Geo Aghinea, award-winning musician Elizabeth J. Birch, leader of Dyskinetic Kris Halpin, CEO of Music Support Joe Hastings, champion of inclusive music innovation Gawain Hewitt, regional producer for Orchestras Live Sooree Pillay and an experimental composer Megan Steinberg.

“I feel so inspired by the individuals and organisations Mastercard has showcased today, all of whom are contributing to greater accessibility and inclusion in our thriving industry and are carving a path for a whole new generation of music makers and listeners,” said Hope.

Vick Hope. Photo credit: Press
Vick Hope. Photo credit: Press

Hosted by Hope, Pillay and Birch were joined by Mastercard ambassador Young Athena and BRIT School Principal Stuart Worden to discuss the future of music and the work underway to make music more accessible for all.

Hope explained: “When we talk about diversity and inclusion, we are talking about ensuring everyone has a voice because everyone has a story to tell, but not everyone has a platform to do so. And it’s our responsibility to ensure that they do – and that is in all forms, gender, race, disability, social backgrounds…”

She asked the panel what is important for the creators of tomorrow, to which Worden said that they will need easier access to the creative industries. “A door has to open in order for everyone to be able to walk through it,” he replied. “There are a number of barriers that stop people from accessing the arts. Cash would be a big one – [many creatives say,] ‘I can’t afford to be a filmmaker!’ ‘I can’t afford a recording studio!’”

He believed that if there were more institutions like The BRIT School – a free performing arts school for 14 to 19-year-olds located in south London – across the UK, there would be more success stories like school alumni RAYE (who is nominated for a record-breaking seven nominations at this year’s BRIT Awards) and Loyle Carner.

Worden understood that Britain’s creative industry is London-centric and that the school hopes to solve the accessibility problem by “trying to branch out to different parts of the country” since “less and less young people are doing the arts because less and less schools are focused on that.”

Young Athena commented on how A.I. has improved access for those who cannot afford to go to the studio and create music. She added: “Input[ing] what kind of genre you want in [the engine], what kind of tempo and it comes out with a beat was amazing. The actual personal inspiration of music is always within the essence of it and I think that technology, when understood, can enhance your work.”

Mastercard trailblazer: musician, Elizabeth J Birch. Photo credit: Press
Mastercard trailblazer: musician, Elizabeth J Birch. Photo credit: Press

Birch countered this, saying: “I think there’s also a conversation about the inaccessibility of some technologies because technology is expensive. They want to add a few zeros at the end. If you put disabled on it, they add a few zeros on the end. And then, people with motor skills sometimes struggle with technology [too].”

The Midlands artist also spoke about her want to change the perception of music-making and challenge the “elitist attitude” in the industry, questioning “Why don’t we all assume that everyone’s a musician when we walk in the room?”

In addition, Birch reflected on their role as a community musician who works with people of all ages really and those with additional needs and disabilities. Birch “noticed that there’s such a hunger for art, such a hunger for creativity”, saying, “If we don’t nurture it we’ll lose it.”

She added: “It’s so important to be able to nurture that creativity in a way that’s authentic to each person.”

The 2024 BRIT Awards is set to happen on tonight (Saturday March 2) at The O2 in London and will be broadcast live on ITV1. The ceremony will be hosted by Maya Jama, Clara Amfo and Roman Kemp after comedian Mo Gilligan “stepped down” as main host last year.

RAYE is nominated for seven awards at this year’s ceremony, the most by a single artist in the show’s history.  Robbie Williams, Gorillaz and Craig David previously held the record with six nominations.

While reacting to the news, she said: “As far as the industry was concerned, I was down and out. Never in my wildest dreams would I think trying again would mean seven BRIT nominations. This is a whole different thing. Best Album? Are you sick?”

The Tooting-born singer is set to perform at the BRIT Awards as well as Becky Hill and Chase & Status, Dua Lipa, Raye, Kylie Minogue (who will also receive the BRITs Global Icon award), Jungle and Rema.

See the full list of BRIT Awards nominations for 2024 here.

The post DJ Vick Hope opens conversation on “broadening access to music for the next generation” appeared first on NME.


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